A Nigerian Christian describes the Fulani jihadist attack that destroyed his village, Ninka, Kaduna State and killed many Christian villagers. Credit: Open Doors Click here to view video.
350 Nigerian Christians were massacred in the first two months of 2020. Over 11,500 Christians have been murdered since June 2015. Four to five million Christians are displaced. 2000 churches were destroyed.
Nigeria has become a killing field of defenseless Christians. Reliable sources show that between 11,500 and 12,000 Christians have been massacred since June 2015 when the Buhari Government of Nigeria came to power. These statistics are based on careful records kept by church groups that include the names of victims and dates of their murders.
Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen accounted for 7,400 murders of Christians. Boko Haram committed 4000 killings of Christians. ‘Highway Bandits’ who separated Christians from Muslims on buses and then killed the Christians committed over 200 murders.
Fulani Jihadists are now the world’s deadliest terrorist group. Five Nigerian Christians are massacred every day by Fulani and Boko Haram Jihadists.
One hundred percent of the 7,400 murders by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen since June 2015 were Christians. Fulani militias wipe out whole Christian villages, but they leave Muslim villages unharmed.
4000 Christians were killed by Boko Haram, a majority of the 6000 civilians massacred by Boko Haram/Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP) since June 2015.
Most of the roadside victims of ‘Bandits/Highway Kidnappers’ in northern Nigeria are Christians traveling to Northern or Southern parts of the country using the Birnin-Gwari Federal Road, near Kaduna.
Boko Haram also murders Muslims who work with the Nigerian government, teach or attend schools, and anyone else who does not submit to Boko Haram’s deadly domination. From 2009 to 2020, Boko Haram murdered at least 27,000 civilians, even more than ISIS in Syria and Iraq, making Boko Haram the world’s deadliest terrorist group. That “distinction” has now been claimed by Jihadist Fulani militias.
In January and February 2020, 350 murders of Christians were recorded. Between 100 and 150 Christian travelers were abducted on highways. Out of the 350 Christian deaths, Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen accounted for 250 murders, and Boko Haram and ‘Highway Bandits’ accounted for the remaining 100 deaths.
The killings of Christians in Nigeria continued in March and April 2020. Fifty defenseless Christians were murdered by Jihadist Fulani militias in Nigeria in March 2020. Jihadist Fulani militants killed ten Christians in first two days of April 2020. Since then, a massacre of Christians has occurred almost daily.
Among the worst hit states in the latest round of Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen attacks are Plateau State with 70-80 deaths, Kaduna 50 deaths, Kogi 30 deaths, Benue 15-20, Delta 16 and Taraba 10. Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen also carried out attacks in Nasarawa, Adamawa, Edo and other parts of the country, leading to the deaths of dozens of Christians.
The anti-Christian attacks by Boko Haram since Jan 2020 have also intensified in Borno, Adamawa and Taraba States. They claimed between 50 and 70 Christian lives and destroyed scores of churches and other buildings belonging to Christians. “Highway Bandits/Kidnappers” raided and looted Christian villages and ambushed and kidnapped Christian travelers.
By the account of the Vanguard Newspaper, “320 persons were killed in Nigeria in the month of January 2020” and according to Sahara Reporters, “223 persons died in Nigeria in the month of February 2020”.
The 2019 Global Terrorism Index also stated that “In 2018, Fulani extremists were responsible for the majority of terror-related deaths in Nigeria at 1,158 fatalities....In 2018, Boko Haram caused 589 deaths from terrorism”
The Nigerian Human Rights NGO Intersociety stated in March 2019 that ‘no fewer than 2400 defenseless Christians were murdered by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen in 2018. In 2019, there were between 1000 and 1,200 Christian deaths.’
In all, no fewer than 10,475 Christians were murdered by Jihadists since June 2015. Fulani Jihadists accounted for about 62% or 7,400 deaths. Nigeria’s security forces (Army, Air Force and Police) were responsible for 1,050 Christian deaths. All the deaths occurred outside the law and were perpetrated in gross violation of international human rights and humanitarian laws. To date, the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against humanity have remained on the prowl.
20 Clergymen Killed and 50 Abducted Since June 2015
No fewer than 20 clergymen including at least eight Catholic Priests or Seminarians were murdered since June 2015 and at least 50 were abducted or kidnapped. Among the slain Priests are Rev. Father Clement Ugwu, abducted and killed on 14 March 2019; Rev. Father Paul Offu abducted and killed on 1 August 2019; and Rev. Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha killed by Jihadist Herdsmen at St. Ignatius Quasi Parish Ukpor-Mbalom (Benue) on 24 April 2018. Among the newest victims of killings targeted at Nigerian Christian leaders are Reverend Pastor Lawan Andimi and Reverend Pastor Denis Bagauri, all top officials of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Adamawa State.
The abducted priests or clergymen included Catholic priests (Fathers Dim, Ezeokana and Chukwuemeka) abducted while returning from Nsukka to Onitsha and Nnewi when they were attacked by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen in Sept 2016 along Nkpologwu-Nimbo Road in Enugu State. One of them later died. On the same Monday 26 September, 2016, a Vincentian Igbo Priest was also kidnapped with his brother along Abuja-Lokoja express way.
Five pastors of the Reverend Enoch Adeboye led Redeemed Christian Church of God, all Igbo citizens, were abducted on Friday, 2 August 2019, but later freed. The five Igbo-pastors are: Deaconess Ibelegbo Chidinma, Chidozie Eluwa, Chiemela Iroha, Okoro Ohowukwe and Ndubuisi Owuabueze.
In December 2018, two Catholic Priests were abducted by suspected Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen. The two Priests were of St Teresa’s Catholic Church Umueze Anam in Anambra West Local Government Area of Anambra State. The priests were abducted at Umuleri while returning from an official function.
Hundreds of Christian Travelers Abducted
Targeting and abducting Christian travelers who are mainly citizens of Igbo extraction on highways particularly in Northern Nigeria have also intensified and taken a dangerous dimension in recent months. The victims are separated at gunpoint according to their tribe and religion. This same religious targeting is applicable to victims of house to house raiding and looting during which Christians are separated from others at gunpoint and taken away or killed on the spot.
Christians, particularly those of Igbo extraction, are waylaid on highways and abducted into the bush and forced to pay ransom or face death including beheading or forceful conversion to Islam. Women among them are routinely subjected to sexual violence including rape and other forms of sexual assault. On 14th Jan 2020, no fewer than 58 Igbo Christian travelers on an Ezenwata Transport Luxury Bus were ambushed, forced to stop, and abducted.
The Boko Haram, Jihadist Herdsmen and “Highway Bandits” have been abducting travelers on major Nigerian highways including Abuja-Okene, Birnin-Gwari-Kaduna and Benin-Ore Federal Roads, etc. The abductees are held and tortured in captivity until they pay ransoms running into millions of naira each. Those who are unable to pay run the high risk of being killed or raped to death in captivity, if they are young women.
Jihadists have forced 4 to 5 million Christians to flee and have destroyed 2000 churches since June 2015.
Ceaseless killing of Christians in Nigeria since June 2015 and burning or destruction of their churches and other worship centers have followed incessant attacks against them by Boko Haram/Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP), Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and a branch of Boko Haram, called “Bandits/Highway Kidnappers” engage in roadway abductions and armed robberies and house to house lootings, all for the purpose of radical propagation of Islam and raising of ‘blood funds’ for themselves and advancement of their terror activities.
The number of Nigerian Northern Christians forced to flee their ancestral homes, farmlands and sacred places of worship in order to escape being murdered or raped has sharply risen from “over 1.3 million in 2014” (Open Doors Report 2015) to between 4 million and 5 million. The affected population has fled the countryside or relocated to less risky capital cities in Northern Nigeria or cities and communities in the Southeast, South, and Southwest parts of the country. They have become “urban refugees”.
The number of people fleeing Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and Boko Haram are presently estimated at 3 million, rising from 2.6 million in 2017. They have become internally displaced persons and refugees in Northern Nigeria. Most are Christians. Among the refugees are some 90,000 Christian Nigerian refugees from Borno’s Gwoza alone, presently in Cameroon. Also fleeing the Islamic jihad in the North are sizeable numbers of the Igbo Christian population resident in the North. They have now resettled in the Southeast and the South of the country.
The number of churches and other Christian worship centers destroyed or burnt since June 2015 in the North has also risen to over 2000. Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen account for over 1500 of the church burnings. Boko Haram accounts for 500 others. Churches destroyed or burnt by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen have been concentrated in Benue, Plateau and Southern Kaduna states.
In eight years, between 2011 and 2019, Benue State has lost over 600 churches and other Christian worship centers to Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen. By the account of Open Doors International, “over 13,000 churches and 1,500 Christian schools were destroyed or burnt; with 11,500-12,500 Christians killed and over 1.3 million forced to flee their homes to escape being murdered by Boko Haram Jihadists between 2009 and 2014”.
Concise Background of the Christian Population in Nigeria and Their Settlement in The North
Nigeria is home to between 95 million and 100 million Christians, out of which an estimated 30 million Nigerian Christians are found in the North. Nigeria’s total population is estimated at 200 million citizens. Eleven to twelve million Christians live in the North, dominated by Christian citizens of Igbo extraction. The Southeast and South regions of Nigeria are home to the largest Christian populations in Nigeria, followed by the Southwest and the old Middle Belt Region in Northern Nigeria. An estimated 6 million Christians live in the Southwest, dominated by Christian citizens of Igbo extraction largely found in Lagos.
In the Northeast, Nigerian Christians are found in large numbers in Taraba State (about 60%), Adamawa (about 40%), Borno (about 40%), Gombe (sizeable) and Yobe and Bauchi (small numbers). Many are Christians of Igbo extraction, particularly in Taraba and Gombe States. Borno and Adamawa States have been the hardest hit in the raging, ongoing anti-Christian persecution and killing of Christians and burning and destruction of their churches.